Avanti Cigar News

A Look at the American Tobacco Wars

October 31, 2014

We take pride in our all-American hand-picked tobacco we use at Avanti and undoubtedly hold the quality of our tobacco in the highest regard. Subsequently, our heritage is the foundation which has made Avanti the favorite of cigar smokers all over the world. Our tobacco comes directly from the fields of Kentucky and Tennessee, states with a long-standing history and pride in agriculture and tobacco.

Both Western Kentucky and Tennessee make up “The Black Patch,” an area where dark-fired tobacco became the basis for agriculture since the time of settlement. “The Black Patch” has a history all its own in regard to the tobacco industry. In the early 1900s, at the height of the area’s tobacco prosperity, many farmers were becoming restless because they believed they were being treated unfairly and soon enough began to take up arms to protect their rights.

In 1904, newspapers announced: a group of farmers were planning to organize against James B. Duke’s American Tobacco Trust in order to fight the injustices being placed upon the agricultural community. They named themselves “The Dark Fired Tobacco District Planters Protective Association of Kentucky and Tennessee,” but to most the simply became know as “The Association.” By 1906, some members of The Association began meeting secretly anywhere they could including churches, basements, schoolhouses, and even in the middle of the woods.

The goal of these vigilantes was to encourage or even intimidate other regional farmers to stand up and join The Association in order to have more power against Duke so he would have no other choice but to pay farmers more to buy their tobacco. Unfortunately, the secret group soon turned to violent persuasion tactics, which included whippings, barn burnings, and setting fire to city warehouses that were full of tobacco. They often rode under the cover of night, cloaked in dark hooded masks, and branding white sashes as they terrorized unsuspecting farmers.

These men later became known as the “Night Riders,” and were also called “The Silent Brigade.” For ten years they rode throughout the farmlands of Kentucky and Tennessee and are now referred to as “The Tobacco War,” and known to be one of the most tumultuous periods of American History between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. In April 1908, a Kentucky National Guard detachment led a series of raids against the Night Riders’ leaders, helping to bring law and order to the region. Tobacco has been a staple in our country for hundreds of years, and we have a deep respect for its historical significance. We are truly grateful to all those who continue to tend to their crops and provide the rich tobacco that Avanti smokers have enjoyed for so many years.